Home > Information Technology, Web (2.0) > Web 2.0! Hype or Fact!? Part 1?

Web 2.0! Hype or Fact!? Part 1?

Today, let’s talk about Web 2.0!

“Web 2.0? What the hell is that?…..Is what you want me to say, but I’m THE digital embodiment of wisdom, knowledge and intelligence, of course I know what it is!”

So what is Web 2.0 really? Let’s try to do this with little bits of elements of how a real paper should be written, ya know, with quotes and references.

“Ah so that is science: copying other people’s work, how so befitting of you.”

Web 2.0: a phrase coined by O’Reilly Media in 2004. The latest definition according to Tim O’Reilly (12/2006):

“Web 2.0 is the business revolution in the computer industry caused by the move to the internet as platform, and an attempt to understand the rules for success on that new platform. “

Hmm alright, so it’s a “business revolution” that’s caused by “the move” to the internet as a “platform”.

“Aha! So that’s how Web 2.0 is defined! Still, that doesn’t really say much, still don’t have a clue what that means. Besides, the internet, or more specifically, the web, has always been a platform.”

Yep, oh wait, it’s then “elaborated” by the next line that goes:

“Chief among those rules is this: Build applications that harness network effects to get better the more people use them.”

Alright, that’s a little bit more specific on the concept. So it’s about “harnessing network effects”

“Which doesn’t say much, as the web has also been about harnessing network effects since the very beginning. In fact, the web is defined as a special type of network to a particular service.”

But ‘to get better the more people use them’, that implies not only dynamic processes but also flexibility, usability, serviceability etc.

“Alright, that is true: while dynamic content has been around for a very long time as well, most of it wasn’t or even had much flexibility, or personalization etc.”

But here’s one point I’d like to keep in mind for a bit: he mentions a “revolution”. A revolution implies something unnatural, something that changed a certain “matter” (if you will) in a very fast and unimaginable way, for better or worse. As opposed to an evolution; which implies changing in a very natural/logical and thus imaginable way.

Are Information Technology (IT) improvements over longer periods of time, even in the context of “The Web” really revolutionary? For real? Nobody saw IT, or more specifically, “The Web” developing in the stuff that’s being coined “Web 2.0″ now?

“I did I did! I’m omniscient like that.”

Back in 1965, Gorden E. Moore mentioned how computer power doubles every eighteen months. We know it as Moore’s Law, and for the last 40 years, it’s been pretty damn accurate.

“Hey were you even alive then? If you weren’t, then I…oh never mind!”

And back in 1991, David P. Reed, of Reed’s Law, who said that the utility of large networks, particularly social networks, can scale exponentially with the size of the network?

Another law in 1993 by Robert M. Metcalfe, the inventor of Ethernet. His law, the Metcalfe’s Law, says that the value of a communications network is proportional to the square of the number of its users.

Alright, Metcalfe’s law is a little bit controversial not because the general idea is false, but specifics on the calculated amount may be inaccurate.

Ever heard of the game “The Sims”? At 16 million sold worldwide, it’s the best selling PC game in the world since it was for sale back in 2001.

“How is this relevant?”

A huge part of “The Sims” longevity is the community, as Will Wright, the creator of The Sims himself reveals:

Q: ‘”The Sims” has an unusual degree of user participation, because people can go out and make and share new furniture, clothes, etc. Was that something you envisioned from the start?

Will Wright: ‘We were very interested in that before we shipped the game. So we released a lot of tools before the game shipped, like six months before, so that people could build new things…and built up quite a large library of game content that was available Day One.

And they have just gone crazy with this stuff now. At this point, probably something like 80 percent to 90 percent of the stuff that you can use in “The Sims” is straight from the fans. Just the sheer mass of stuff that they’ve created on their sites outweighs all the stuff that we’ve done–and we’ve done a lot.’

“Wow, talk about making the people work for him! Clearly one of my long lost students!”

Soooo, are “Web 2.0″ and its “Web 2.0 applications” truly “revolutionary”? Did it take us by surprise? Was it something unexpected/unpredicted? Were sir Moore, sir Reed and sir Metcalfe just joking around? I’m inclined to say no here.

“I am too, but only because I didn’t coin it. That which is not created by me is flawed by default.”

So what of the business perspective? The “business revolution”? You mean to say that before “Web 2.0″, the businesses weren’t using computers? They weren’t using IT to enhance their productivity? Their efficiency? Business never exploited “The Web” as another value driver? They weren’t advertising their products on “The Web”? They weren’t selling their products using “The Web”? Those countless numbers of (PERL/PHP) shoppings carts were just fashion trends?

Community? You mean there were no standardized communication protocols? EDI was just a term business managers bragged about? E-mail? Message boards/Forums? Newsgroups? Chats? Isn’t the fact that the concept of “The Web” exist actually proof enough IT was factoring the needs of the “community”? You know, “community driven”? You believe “The Web” was created to just hang around by yourself?

“Or with your alter egos? Actually, I guess you would…hehe”

Heck, doesn’t the whole phrasing of “Web 2.0″, you know, SEQUEL to “Web 1.0″ state a causal relationship? How would that term and what it stands for be revolutionary then? We don’t go “Stone Age 9.5! Vive La Révolution!”

When we go towards a revolutionary phase, we don’t add a number behind it, we give it a whole new name! Want me to go compare the Industrial Revolution vs the Digital Revolution to “Web 1.0″ and “Web 2.0″?

Web 2.0 may or may not be just another bumper sticker, but it being “revolutionary” certainly oughta be.

“…a buzzword, that is. Of course, the only thing revolutionary is I!”

To be continued…

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